The Senate Commerce Committee approved on Wednesday an all-encompassing telecommunications reform bill with a bi-partisan vote of 15-7. The bill, which was initially introduced by Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), has been renamed the Advanced Telecommunications and Opportunity Reform Act. It addresses a wide range of communications-related issues, including municipal broadband services, interoperability funding and video franchise reform. As it is written, the legislation does not provide an ‘effective’ policy on Internet neutrality, according to several senators, consumer advocate groups, and e-commerce corporations. ‘Right now under current law, there’s nothing to stop the phone and cable companies from striking a deal to offer high-speed access to a company like Google and refusing to provide any deal at all to a different company like Yahoo,’ said Jeanine Kenney, senior policy analyst for Consumer’s Union. ‘There’s not even a rule on the books that would prevent them from blocking Web sites.’ Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) proposed an amendment to the bill to ‘ensure fair treatment of all Internet content.’ The amendment incorporated the following non-discriminatory principle: ‘to promote broadband deployment, and presence and promote the open and interconnected nature of the Internet, a broadband […]

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